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Russian feminist activist faces porn charges for running Vagina Monologues art group on social media

Source: Meduza

Yulia Tsvetkova, an artist and activist for women’s well-being and LGBTQ rights in the far eastern Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, has been named a suspect in a criminal pornography distribution case. Tsvetkova first spoke about the case with the human rights group and media outlet OVD-Info.

Police approached Tsvetkova and told her about the case at a local train station, where she had arrived after traveling on a business trip. The officers then took Tsvetkova in for questioning as a witness. When she declined to give testimony, the activist later told OVD-Info, her status in the case was changed to that of a suspect. Tsvetkova was made to sign a non-disclosure agreement and a document promising she would not leave the city.

Then, police searched Tsvetkova’s apartment and the children’s studio where she had previously worked. The officers seized technological devices, papers, and brochures on various topics in gender and sexuality. “Nine officers were walking around examining all the pencils and the children’s scrapbooks. Among other things, they said I was a lesbian and a sex trainer who distributes propaganda. That has no basis in reality,” Tsvetkova told OVD-Info.

The source who spoke with DVhab.ru indicated that the pornography case was opened a month ago without any suspects listed. In October, Tsvetkova told OVD-Info that she and two other members of the VKontakte group were questioned at a local police station. While the other two women were asked about the Vagina Monologues group, Tsvetkova herself was told that she had been brought in for questioning after police received a tip from Timur Bulatov (also known as Timur Isayev), a well-known anti-LGBTQ activist and vigilante. Tsvetkova had previously said Bulatov reported her at least twice due to her association with the Vagina Monologues group.

Tsvetkova was also called in to a police station as early as the spring of 2019 because she had created an art project, “A Woman is Not a Doll,” that featured body positivity-themed drawings. Police officers interpreted those drawings as pornography as well. Around the same time, pressure from local officials forced Tsvetkova and her collaborators to cancel an art festival called The Color of Saffron. The artist said the mayor’s office in Komsomolsk-on-Amur was specifically opposed to a play about gendered stereotypes called Pink People, Blue People that was to be included in the festival. Tsvetkova herself was the director of the theater staging the play, a youth troupe called Merak. After the children who had worked on Pink People, Blue People were questioned at a police station, Tsvetkova closed down Merak out of concerns for the safety of its participants, OVD-Info reported.

Report by Olga Korelina

Translation by Hilah Kohen